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Anjali Dhankhar asked: What are the major drivers of India’s Africa Policy?

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  • Abhishek Mishra replies: For a long time, the Indian government was criticised for not having a dedicated strategy/policy for its engagement with the African continent. The frequency of two-way high-level ministerial visits was also limited. Prime Minister Narendra Modi enunciated India’s policy towards Africa in July 2018 during his address to the Ugandan Parliament. The vision he outlined contained ten guiding principles, also known as ‘Kampala Principles’, which represent both a continuity in policies that have historically defined the India-Africa partnership and reflect a change in the nuances and priorities in Indian engagement.

    India has an intrinsic interest in helping Africa progress. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has reiterated that for India, Africa’s development is fundamental to its foreign policy goals and is a prerequisite if the world is to truly become multipolar. With the rise in global profile of India and African countries, ideological and political issues which guided the relationship during Cold War era have taken a backseat. In contemporary times, economic development and security issues dominate India-Africa relationship.

    There are two broad drivers of India’s Africa policy. The first is India’s quest for ensuring resource and energy security. Since India is an energy-dependent country and one of the largest importers of oil, African countries are in a primary position to meet India’s growing demand for energy resources. India is also looking to diversify its import basket for sourcing of crude oil and LNG and reduce its reliance on the Middle East.

    The second driver is working to get African countries’ support for India’s candidature to the UNSC’s permanent seat and to restructure global multilateral and financial institutions, achieve greater autonomy, and ensure that the agenda of the ‘Global South’ is prioritised. The inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member in the G20 under Indian G20 Presidency is a testament to the importance India attaches to its relations with the continent.  

    India and African countries have travelled a long way from the days of common struggle against colonialism to an evolving and multifaceted 21st century partnership within the ambit of South-South cooperation framework. India-Africa relations are s slowly beginning to occupy greater mind space in our national discourse.

    Africa today has a basket of international partners to choose from. In order for India to truly distinguish itself as Africa’s partner of choice, India will need to continue regular consultations with African partners and double-down on its relations with some major African countries, most notably South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius, and Seychelles.

    Posted on December 20, 2023

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.